top of page
  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex Council Notes for Monday, November 5

by Sylene Argent and Adam Gault

Discussion on cannabis retail facilities results in police getting called

Councillor Steve Bjorkman put forward a Notice of Motion, asking Administration to prepare a report for Council regarding a bylaw to regulate where in the Town of Essex a licensed recreational cannabis retailer can be located.

  “The idea here is for administration to go back and look at all of the things that are out there right now, especially for retail,” Bjorkman explained. “We already have bylaws that effect our grow-ops, we have bylaws with regards to medical [cannabis], but as far as retail goes, we don’t have anything right now.”

  Bjorkman added that before January 21, 2019, the incoming Council is going to have to decide if it wants to opt in or out of seeking a licence for a brick and mortar recreational cannabis store.

  “Should we receive a licence for the Town of Essex, we need to have some sort of apparatus where we can govern where these things are,” Bjorkman said.

  The potential odours of cannabis proved to be a contentious issue on the subject, as a recess was called when Mayor Ron McDermott and Councillor Randy Voakes engaged in an argument, after the Mayor alleged the smell from a neighbourhood retailer was permeating the Essex Centre CIBC branch.

  Voakes, taking issue with the Mayor’s remarks, accused the Mayor of making disparaging remarks against downtown businesses.

  The Mayor fired back, at which point he demanded a recess. When council resumed, he presented Councillor Voakes an ultimatum; apologize to Council and all in attendance, or excuse himself from the meeting.

  Voakes refused and a second argument ensued. The Mayor then instructed Robert Auger, Legislative Services Clerk, to call the police.

  OPP were dispatched to the Council meeting, where they instructed Voakes to vacate the premises. After advising Voakes that he would be charged with trespassing if he did not comply, officers escorted Voakes from the building as he shouted at the Mayor regarding a supposed email sent to him which he alleged the Mayor referred to Voakes with profanity “as a piece of [excrement].”

  As Voakes was leaving the chamber, Mayor McDermott plugged his ears in an exaggerated fashion, shutting out what the Councillor was saying to him.

  Council then resumed where the motion was carried. 


Public Works Department employee completes certification

Essex recognized long-time municipal employee, Al Diemer, for recently obtaining his Certified Road Supervisor (CRS) Certification.

  Mayor Ron McDermott presented Diemer, a 22-year veteran employee of the Town and current Senior Lead Hand of the Public Works Department, with his certification. 

“Tonight, we’d like to recognize one of our dedicated Town staff [members], Mr. Al Diemer,” McDermott said. “This certification is a significant accomplishment, both for Al, and our municipality. It recognizes the high standard of education and experience of public work professionals throughout Ontario.”

  Adding to the Mayor’s sentiment, Director of Infrastructure and Development, Chris Nepszy, said that it was important to recognize the achievements and successes of long-time Town employees.

  “Al obtaining his CRS Certification, and continuing to elevate his training, really speaks volumes about what type of employee that Al is,” Nepszy said. “In the years of experience that I have with Al, I really have found that Al treats his job here like he treats any project that he would do at his own home, which says a lot.”

 EC BIA requests using promotional signage

Essex Council received the Planning Department’s report, “Event Signage for non-profit organizations” and further permitted the placement of one event advertising sign on an annual basis for the Essex Centre Business Improvement Association (ECBIA) on Town Hall lands for special events it organizes or sponsors.

  The EC BIA made the request to place a sign at the Essex Municipal Building to promote its E$$ex Centre Downtown Dollar$ program. It was hoped the sign could be up between Tuesday, November 6, 2018 and ending Monday, November 25, 2018.

  Between November 13 and 23, E$$ex Centre Downtown Dollar$ can be purchased at the Essex RBC. A $10 voucher can be purchased for $8.50, with patrons being able to purchase a maximum of $250 worth of vouchers. The ECBIA covers the cost difference to promote supporting local businesses leading up to and after the holiday season.

  The report to Council notes through the Town’s sign bylaw, Council can authorize the placement of such signage by resolution. In doing so, permission can be granted without limit on the number of years such signage can be placed or the number of events advertised.

  “In other words, granting permission can allow the ECBIA to place signs for all events sponsored by them each year. By doing this, Council shows its support for BIA initiatives and helps to maintain a sustainable and viable commercial centre,” the report notes. This would be for a maximum of 30 days at a time.


Harrow Streetscape/CIP

Essex Council received Nelson Silveira, Economic Development Officer’s report, “Harrow Streetscape Plan and CIP Review,” which presented the conclusions and recommendations for each document.

  Council approved funding for this project at the February 20, 2018 meeting. Stempski Kelly Associates Inc. was retained to undertake the work necessary to complete this project, which is the firm that conducted the Essex Centre Streetscape and Silo District Plan in 2014.

  The report noted the consultant’s conducted a series of walking tours, site visits, stakeholder interviews, and hosted two open houses to get feedback on draft findings. Silveira noted an online survey was also conducted, which attracted 200 submissions. It took around two months to collect the feedback and work on the programs.

  Silveira said there are 39 recommendations in the Harrow Streetscape Plan, “We will try to get through them,” he said, noting doing so will take funding. He added the next steps to take on these two items will come to Council after discussions are held with the Harrow & Colchester South Chamber of Commerce and Town administration.

  Those 39 recommendations, “Address tangible streetscape infrastructure for Downtown Harrow. All treatments, products, and/or uses should reflect the ‘Farm Roots’ theme as outlined in the Style Guide section of the Streetscape Plan,” the report notes.

  They include but not limited to pavement and sidewalk replacement, street greening, bench replacement, increasing waste receptacles, installing bike racks, creating a banner program. Director of Finance and Business Services, Jeff Morrison, said the items could be added to the 2019 budget as that is currently being worked upon, but that could mean taking out other projects.

  Councillor Steve Bjorkman said a streetscape provides Council with a long-term vision for a downtown area. He was the Chairperson of the Essex Centre BIA when the Essex Centre Streetscape and Silo District Plan was drafted.

  There were five recommendations attached to the Harrow Community Improvement Plan Review, which includes creating an opportunity for business tenants to be eligible for aesthetic improvements which are not permanent to apply for funding, such as for street greening initiatives; amend the one-time application for each property under each applicable grant program; extract the Accessibility and Landscaping & Buffering rehabilitation grants to become their own programs; generate a dedicated marketing and promotion strategy for the Harrow CIP; and re-format the layout of the current existing CIP document to be more visually appealing, easy to use, and user friendly.

  The report notes the total budget for this project was $40,000.


Site plan approvals for the GECDSB, R and K Robinson Holdings

Essex Council received the Planning Department’s Report, “Site plan control approval, Greater Essex County District School Board, Essex public School (Ward 1)” and further adopted Bylaw 1754, regarding the site plan control application of the Greater Essex County District School Board for construction of a child care centre addition to Essex Public School. The related site plan agreement was also executed and registered.

  The report notes a 9400 square foot addition is proposed for Essex Public School for expanded child care facilities.

  Essex Council also received the Planning Department’s Report Planning report, “Site plan control approval, R and K Robinson Holdings Incorporated (Ward 3)” and approved Bylaw 1755, regarding the site plan control application for facility expansion of Robinson Transport on the west side of County Road 11, south of the 4th Concession. The related site plan agreement will be executed and registered.

  The report to Council notes Robinson Transport has been expanding its business operations in recent years, which has created a demand on the need for new facilities.


Accident recovery costs

Council received a report Jeffrey Morrison, Director of Corporate Services, and Chris Nepszy, Director of Infrastructure and Development, submitted, entitled “Right of Way Clean-Up: Cost Recovery.”

The report provided information and background with regards to cost recovery for the clean-up of accidents on municipal roads and right of ways.

  The report stems from a 2017 Council request to have a discussion with two area towing companies regarding cost recovery for accident clean-up on municipal right of ways, as well as the recovery of costs from insurance companies or the driver involved in the accident in question.

  It was noted in the report, that all municipalities in Windsor-Essex do not provide cost recovery for accident clean-up, which is in line with most municipalities across Ontario.

  Speaking of the tow companies in question, it was noted collecting recovery costs from the insurance companies can be difficult, and at times, costs can go uncollected, which is ultimately the responsibility of the towing company.

  “When police show up, they get paid, when the ambulance show up, they get paid, fire shows up they get paid, our tow truck companies aren’t getting paid,” Councillor Sherry Bondy said. “To me, that’s a problem, because they’re doing work on municipal roads. I understand where administration is coming from in the report when they say no other municipalities are doing this, but I’m saying, what are the other solutions?”

Bondy went on the suggest the ideas of lobbying the province on the tow company’s behalf as a potential step council could explore at some point in the future.

  The report finished by noting if the Town were to provide cost recovery for the clean-up of accidents on municipal right of ways, the financial liability of collecting the outstanding claims would shift from a private towing business to the responsibility of the municipality.


NoM to be presented November 19

  Councillor Randy Voakes would like the Town of Essex to create a policy for accident cost recovery for local towing companies, to include towing, and cleaning up. And that this policy is developed and presented within this Term of Council.  


bottom of page